Recently, Pine Cove announced its founder, William T. (Bill) McKenzie, went to be with the Lord. In their tribute to him they wrote, “He was a man full of vision and action, and his personal faith in Jesus Christ was the cornerstone of his life. Bill was the visionary behind Pine Cove. In 1963 while standing on his father’s land that would become Pine Cove, he heard the Lord say to him, ‘I’m going to make this a showplace for My glory.’”
Like Pine Cove, we at DTS mourn the loss of such a pioneer in Christian camping, but we rejoice that Bill is celebrating in heaven with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His vision and legacy live on through Pine Cove’s ministry and DTS has been blessed to have been part of that story.
For over fifty years, every August, Pine Cove has welcomed the DTS faculty for a time of praise, worship, prayer, and planning. Our time there has always been one of refreshment and enjoyment. But there is much more to the unique and amazing story behind the close relationship our two ministries have shared—a story that goes back to Pine Cove’s founding.
Bill McKenzie moved to Fort Worth in the 1950s to work in aerospace engineering. Shortly after arriving he met Bill Garrison, a lawyer by trade, and Howard Hendricks, a DTS professor. It wasn’t long before McKenzie invited them to go fishing out in east Texas. “They used to go down to McKenzie’s father’s land in east Texas on the weekends to fish,” Bill Hendricks, Prof Hendricks’ son, explained. “They would dream and pray about what could happen with that property.”
As Pine Cove tells the story, “Four men, including Bill McKenzie, Bill Garrison, and professor Howard Hendricks, rowed onto the lake in the middle of what is now the Woods family camp. Here, they spent time in prayer for what would later become Pine Cove.” Four fishermen, dreaming about how God might use that land and natural beauty to help others become fishers of men.
In his autobiographical book entitled, Live for What Outlives You: The Amazing Story of How Pine Cove Began, McKenzie wrote, “Howard Hendricks told me when I was an ambitious young man to look for things to do that if you don’t do it, nobody else will. If there are plenty of people, who can and will do something, look somewhere else to invest your life. Pursue a unique calling.” And so he did.
From its inception, Pine Cove and DTS labored together for the advancement of the gospel and for personal discipleship. For one thing, Prof Hendricks gave McKenzie the idea that camping would be a good use of the property. “Dad taught a Christian camping class at DTS at that time,” Bill Hendricks wrote. “He believed in the value of getting young people (as well as families) out of their element into nature to create experiences and encounters with God. McKenzie liked the idea and visited the camps throughout the country that dad would tell him to go see.”
One of those camps was The Firs located in Bellingham, Washington. Don Anderson, the director of that camp, was a DTS alumnus and protégé of Prof Hendricks. Impressed, McKenzie soon hired him away to serve as the first executive director of Pine Cove. The camp officially opened in 1968 with only 14 campers and 21 staff. Today, Pine Cove operates 13 camps in two states, with 1,800 summer staff.
DTS greatly values its relationship with Pine Cove. It is a partnership and friendship that has stood the test of time. Mark L. Bailey, president of DTS explained, “The legacy of this friendship sets the example that the spiritual life is not an isolated journey, it’s not a solo fishing trip. It’s a community of believers giving attention to the Word of God in which they see the glory of the person of Christ. And when that intentionality takes place, something dramatic happens. It’s all for the glory of God.”
The Pine Cove family camp speakers have included many DTS alumni: Ray Stedman (CTH, 1950), Ken Kilinski (ThM, 1958), Bob Livesay (ThM, 1974), and Mike Fisher (ThM, 1974), to name a few. DTS alumni who have worked at Pine Cove as summer staff are too numerous to mention.
The long-lasting relationship that has existed between DTS and Pine Cove exemplify what DTS teaches and what McKenzie believed, “I’ve heard many preachers say there are only two things in this world that will last for eternity—God’s Word and the souls of men and women. Living for the Kingdom of God beats living for anything else that will fade away.”
*Photograph courtesy of Bill Hendricks. (Far left to right: Bill Garrison, Bill McKenzie, and Howard Hendricks. The man in the rear of the boat paddling has never been identified. The photo was taken on the original Pine Cove property, now known as The Woods Family Camp. The photo time stamp says February, 1965. Pine Cove opened for its first camp in the summer of 1968.)
For more information on Pine Cove, please visit their website at pinecove.com.